As a kid, one of life’s greatest mysteries was how Santa kept his suit so clean after sliding down all of those chimneys on Christmas Eve. What a guy! Out there performing free chimney sweeps for all the good moms and dads…

…the average chimney sweep takes about an hour to complete

But on a more serious note, having a chimney inspection checklist and then hiring a professional to come clean your furnace, wood stove or fireplace chimney are extremely important tasks to get done. In fact, the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends having this done at least once a year. Sometimes more, depending on how often you use your system.

We understand that life gets busy and you might be thinking, “Well, I don’t have time for that.” Well, actually, the average chimney sweep takes about an hour to complete. Can’t you spare an hour to ensure your home and family are safer this season?

What Is Chimney Sweeping?

Chimney sweeping is the process of clearing the entire chimney system of creosote, soot, blockages, and other dirt and debris that could interfere with the proper function and efficiency of your wood stove, furnace and fireplace. Your chimney technician will use specialized rods and brushes to remove all buildup from the inside the firebox, smoke shelf, smoke chamber, damper, flue, and chimney cap. 

black creosote in a curved flue pipeOne of the biggest concerns that come with chimney usage is creosote buildup. Not only is creosote toxic to your health, it is one of the leading causes of chimney fires across the globe. Some people will claim they don’t need a professional chimney sweeping because they regularly use chimney cleaning logs. While these logs do help reduce some creosote, it will never replace a thorough chimney sweeping and inspection! That is because creosote buildup has 3 stages.

  • Stage 1: This stage resembles a coffee ground consistency and is easy to brush away.
  • Stage 2: This stage looks more like burnt corn flakes and requires a little more effort to remove it.
  • Stage 3: Creosote at this stage will appear to be dripping down the inside of your chimney. That’s because, as it heats up, it will turn to a wax-like state. It is smarter, safer, and cheaper to have your chimney swept well before creosote buildup reaches this point.

Regardless of the stage and severity of your creosote buildup, the safest and most reliable way to remove creosote is to contact a professional. 

How Do You Know Your Chimney Needs Swept?

Outside of your yearly cleaning and inspection, there are a few telltale signs your chimney and fireplace need to be cleaned as soon as possible. These signs include: 

  • Fireplace smells like a campfire: Even when a fire isn’t lit, you can detect the smell of burning wood coming from your fireplace. This odor indicates the presence of creosote. 
  • Fire burns oddly or takes more effort to keep it going: Because fire requires oxygen, this could be a sign of a blockage. Restrictive airflow makes it hard to keep a fire burning properly.
  • Smoke fills the room: Even with the damper open, you notice smoke beginning to fill the room. 
  • Fireplace walls have a slimy, black substance: That’s creosote, rearing its ugly head again!
  • Evidence of animals: You hear animal noises or see signs of animal nests in your fireplace. The biggest culprits we often find building nests in chimneys are birds or squirrels.

If you are experiencing any of the problems listed above, then you know it is time to schedule your fireplace and chimney cleaning. Let Winston’s Chimney Services handle all of your concerns!

Do Chimney Sweeps Leave a Mess?

a technician taping a tarp over a chimney opening to prepare for a sweepThe truth is, chimney sweeping is a very messy job. That said, since every one of our chimney technicians comes prepared with the right tools and takes the right precautions, chimney sweeping will never be messy for you, the homeowner.

Chimney technicians certified by the CSIA, like the ones at Winston’s Chimney Services, will wear booties over their shoes, lay tarps down to protect your flooring and furniture, and use specialized HEPA vacuums to capture soot and creosote. We always want to ensure that we leave your house in the condition in which we found it. 

What To Do To Prepare for a Chimney Sweeping

  1. In order to do our job, we recommend that you do not use your fireplace or wood stove for at least 24-48 hours prior to your appointment. This ensures that our chimney technicians are able to perform their job correctly in a cool, safe environment.
  2. You will also want to remove valuables from the mantel and anywhere within close proximity to the fireplace. Consider leaving about 6 feet or so clear around the fireplace for easy access. 
  3. Please clean out any ash from the firebox and have a plan in place to keep small kids and pets away from the area during the sweeping process. 

How Do I Find the Right Chimney Sweep Company?

If you’re in Northern VA, Washington, DC, or Maryland, look no further than Winston’s Chimney Services for all of your chimney sweeping and inspection needs. You can count on us to provide quality work and to get the job done right! Schedule your spot today by calling 703-379-5006 or simply schedule an appointment online.

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109